ave you ever thought that your life may be somewhat lop-sided? Are you over-developed in some areas and under-developed in other ways? I know that my life has been like that. I tend to do only the things that I ENJOY doing (becoming quite proficient at these things). The better I get, the more I enjoy them, and therefore, I spend even more time doing them, never realizing that I am becoming more and more deficient in other important areas of my life. So, I have a tendency to NEGLECT the things that I dont like or that may seem difficult to me. Thats why I am not maturing in some traits. I do not believe that this is what Jesus, our Supreme Role-Model, intended.
Jesus is the best example of a well-balanced life. In Luke 2:52 we can gain one very important insight into his development from the age of 12 until the first year of his short ministry on earth: "Jesus grew taller and continued to learn more and more. People liked him, and he pleased God." (SEB) Jesus prepared himself thoroughly during his younger years for the time when his ministry would be in full swing. Are you using your time wisely to get ready for Gods mission for YOU? Are you really preparing yourself for what God wants YOU to do in the future? Take a closer look at the four distinct areas mentioned in Luke 2:52 and see how YOU measure up.
The text says that Jesus "grew taller." It seems to me that, for many of us, after we stop growing taller, we grow only WIDER! Have you ever noticed how many overweight people there are among us? It must be all that good 'fellowshipping" and all those delicious, "church" pot-luck dinners! Are we failing to take care of Gods temple, the human body (1 Cor. 3:16, 17)? Is your body ABLE to fully function for the Lords purpose? How can we give glory to God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:12-20) if they are TOO FAT? Have you ever "in your whole life - heard even one sermon about obesity? The truth hurts, doesn't it? (Thats why professional preachers wont tell the truth from the pulpit about this subject; too many of them are OVERWEIGHT themselves! And, they instinctively want to avoid this subject like a plague.)
Even if you are NOT overweight, you may still be badly out of shape, physically speaking. Are you making your body tougher, bringing it under "complete control" (1 Cor. 9:27)? Are you paying attention to what you put into your mouth? Are you eating well-balanced, nutritious foods (fresh fruits and vegetables from Gods good earth)? Or, are you suffering yourself with high-calorie sweets, too many artificially-processed foodstuffs, and other 'junk" foods?
Jesus and his followers ate lots of whole-grain bread and fresh fish (e.g. Mk. 6:38-42; Jn. 21:13-15). Though Im sure he probably had a very satisfying meal at the marriage feast in Cana (Jn. 2:1-11), its hard to imagine Jesus having a potbelly! He was certainly no "couch potato." While reading through the gospels recently, I noticed that Jesus did a great deal of walking. He didn't have the "advantages" of modern-day transportation. He was continuously climbing mountains to pray (Mk. 6:46) and walking from place to place to teach others (Mt. 14:25; Mk. 1:16; 6:6; 11:27). We too should have the proper balance between food intake and physical exercise. Its really a very simple formula - any extra weight that we are carrying around is the result of taking in more calories than we are burning off! If we are going to lose some of that extra weight (especially all those extra pounds that we have just put on during the holidays), we must cut way down on the number of calories that we take in, or we will have to increase the number of calories that we burn off by planned exercise, or do both. It is also important to remember that even if you are at your ideal body weight or even underweight, EVERYONE needs vigorous exercise and proper nutrition to stay healthy.
This is where I fall short. I think I need the most help in this department. If you are anything like me, you probably think that "learning" was something that you did back in school, when you were required (by law) to sit there for 12 years and absorb whatever you could in order to pass the tests and move on toward graduation. Maybe you went to college, just in case anything might happen to your husband, so you would have a skill to "fall back on." However, you only learned what you "had to" for your particular kind of job. I am now coming to realize that learning is an ongoing, never-ending quest in all areas of my life. It is true that "the more you know, the more you know you dont know." I once met a 98 year-old "retired" teacher with a broken hip who was on her way to a rehabilitation center from the hospital. While they were wheeling her out to the ambulance, I noticed that she had a little book. She continually referred to it. When I asked her what she was doing, she informed me that she was teaching herself Greek! She also intended to learn another foreign language after that!! She was a great inspiration to me and great teacher. She refused to allow her mind to go to waste, no matter what her age was.
"Jesus continued to learn more and more." He developed his mind from a very young age. He knew the Old Testament scriptures (Lk. 2:46-47; 24:27). He openly taught several days in the temple courtyard (Mt. 26:55). He kept his mind alert and active by teaching the people and debating with the leaders of his day (Mt. 22:23-33; Mk. 2:2, 13; 11:27-33; 12:13-17). We should be constantly asking God for the same thing that Paul and Timothy prayed for: "We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of what God wants, with all kinds of wisdom and spiritual understanding . . . Grow in your knowledge of God." (Col. 1:9, 10, SEB).
Jesus had a very active social life. "People liked him." He was able to socialize with all classes of people and to feel comfortable with them. He associated with the social outcasts of his day - the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:7-30); tax collectors and sinners (Mk. 2:15; Lk. 7:37-39); lepers and other sick people (Mk. 14:3; Lk. 5:12-14; Jn. 5:5-9) - as well as with the rich and prominent leaders of his time (Lk. 14:1). Who do WE tend to associate with? Are we, as individuals, ever helping the "down-and-outers" or do we do it only for a "project" or as an official member of some "church" committee? Do we tend to spend most of our time only with other Christians? What about the unsaved sinners? How can we teach people about Jesus if we dont ever socialize with them?
We also notice Jesus at large social gatherings (feeding the 5,000 men and their families - Mt. 14; Mk. 6; Lk. 9; Jn. 6), as well as at small intimate meals with his twelve apostles (Mt. 26:20; Mk. 14:17; Lk. 22:14). There were times when there were so many people coming and going that he and his apostles didn't even have a chance to eat (Mk. 6:31). When life became too hectic, he took time out to "get away from it all." He recognized the need to be alone, to pray to God, and to relax (Mk. 6:31; Lk. 5:1 6). We all need those special quiet times to communicate with our Creator.
Jesus was always interested in doing his Fathers will (Mt. 26:39). "He pleased God." Are we trying to do the same? Or, are we so involved with the tyranny of the urgent or with pursuing what WE like to do that we neglect what God wants? Are we more interested in pleasing our spouse, impressing the boss, or keeping up with the Joneses that we fail to obey God (Mt. 7:21-23)? Are we taking out enough time to be alone with Him?
In Phil. 2:12, it says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling . . ." We must not rely on somebody else (such as the professional preacher or our spouse) to get us to heaven. Its OUR responsibility (Gal. 6:2, 5)! "The Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through believing in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for proving sinners wrong, for correcting errors, and for training people to be right with God. Then the man of God will be right, PREPARED for any good work." (2 Tim. 3:15-17, SEB).
Are you prepared to serve God? Or, are you so involved with worldly cares that you dont notice your next door neighbor who needs to hear the gospel message? Have you become so comfortable just sitting round studying Gods Word that you are not keeping your body in shape? Is your social life "out of whack"? Do you set aside quality time for God? (Im asking myself these hard questions too!)
Our lives should be balanced to the point that we are not neglecting any important aspects of our TOTAL development. We ought to spend more time improving ourselves in weaker areas, not just "getting by." We all need to become totally fit for service in the kingdom of God. Study Matt. 6:33, 34 carefully.